Voting system R&D (Re: 2017 update to the SPI voting algorithm for Board elections)

Josh berkus josh at
Tue Mar 7 18:29:21 UTC 2017

On 03/07/2017 10:13 AM, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Josh berkus writes ("Re: Voting system R&D (Re: 2017 update to the SPI voting algorithm for Board elections)"):
>> So in all of this discussion, I've not heard anything which seems
>> terribly persuasive compared with just taking our existing system and
>> fixing the problem with unranked candidates (and maybe providing a
>> slightly better UI).
>> Yes, we could use a different system, but why?
> The arguments were rehearsed extensively in July and August.

I made this argument then, as well.  Nothing I've seen has convinced me
that our existing system needs more than a few patches.

>> The system we currently use has been good at choosing candidates who are
>> acceptable to most voting members over candidates who take highly
>> partisan positions.  This is a *virtue*, not a drawback.  If we'd had a
>> voting system which supported more partisanship, SPI probably would have
>> been destroyed ten years ago when we had folks actively trying to split
>> the membership.
> Proportional voting systems are _better_ at undermining partisanship
> than winning-faction-takes-all ones.[1]

Concordet is not a winning-faction-take-all system.  It is a "most
acceptable candidate" system.  Which kinda makes this argument invalid.

>> Overally, I disagree that there's any major issue with our voting
>> system, and this whole thing really looks to me like voting system geeks
>> looking for an excuse to tinker with "cool voting tech".
> The Single Transferable Vote is the opposite of "cool voting tech".
> What we have right now is an experimental multi-winner Condorcet which
> has been chosen almost by accident, and which has never been subjected
> to any 3rd-party analysis, never been discussed in the literature, and
> never adopted anywhere else.  I want to move away from that to
> something standard, well-regarded, and widely adopted.
> I am trying to switch from "cool voting tech" to something boring.

But STV is still a "single-winner" system.  Any multi-winner
implementation of it we choose would *still* be experimental.

For that matter, STV isn't a proportional system, unless you're planning
to allocate "seats" by project?  If so, that's a rather substantial
bylaws change, and needs to be spelled out.

In fact, looking over your posts to spi-general and spi-private, I can't
find one which does actually fully lay out what specific voting
mechanics you're proposing.  I may have missed it because I was off
spi-private for a month or so; can you please link your paper explaining it?

--Josh Berkus

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